In my possession is a book I love, plucked from the Discard Pile (in fact, DISCARD is written in bold black along the edge of the pages and in the front and back covers): Ballads of Old New York by Arthur Guiterman (also author of The Mirthful Lyre). It’s full of all sorts of good stuff, but I offer you something from the Revolutionary War period. Behind the cut.
Restore, O Thought, whose potent weird
Recalls the Past on lagging pinion,
The corbeled roof De Lancey reared
What time Queen Anne mantained dominion.
Away with dust and rattling pave!
Let all be swarded, green and trim,
And call the river’s banished wave
Again to lap a garden’s rim.
How bright with silk and rich brocade,
With baldric broad and tossing feather.
The Long Room rilled when youth and maid
Went swinging down the floor together!
Those heavy beams could make avow
Of all the joys of dance and reel,
Of flirt of fan and courtly bow
And sudden glint of jealous steel.
But ruthless Traffic claimed the place;
And swarthy-visaged Landlord Fraunces
Displayed Queen Charlotte’s pictured face
To awe his guests with regal glances.
Then here the traveler reined his beast
And drank his noggin in the shade,
And merchants met in solemn feast
To ponder for the weal of trade;
And captains, fresh from siege and plain,
Rehearsed their tales of savage warring
At Frontenac and Fort Duquesne
In tones that set the glasses jarring,
And pledged the memory of him
Who stormed the Heights of Abraham
In bumpers beaded to the brim
With rousing punch of Rip van Dam.
Oppressed by laws of grievous weight
And tyrant craft but ill dissembled,
Within these walls, in high debate,
The "Sons of Liberty" assembled.
In vain they pled for right undone!
In vain, for hearts were stern and proud–
Till range the shot of Lexington
And grimly closed the battle-cloud.
But hark! the room resounds anew
With clink of spurs and clank of sabers;
The leader comes to bid adieu
To those who shared his wars and labors–
To knightly Schuyler, void of stain,
To rugged Morgan, frank and free,
To faithful Knox and fiery Wayne,
And dashing Light-Horse Harry Lee.
To all he pledged the cup of grace;
From every eye the tear-drop started;
Each clasped his chief in strong embrace;
In silent grief the heroes parted.
Oh, cherish safe from force unkind,
Though rust consume both sword and pen,
Those ancient walls that hold enshrined
The honest love of gallant men!